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Old 02-27-2007, 11:05 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2005
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Default Un-nerfed Mages

First off, thanks for reading my post. Based on the posts I have read people are obviously very passionate about this subject so please bare with me.

I'm the GM for a high fantasy game with 5 players in a world of my creation. I have found that the current rules in 4e have nerfed the mage (and primary character). Being a Robin's Laws Storyteller, I'd like to see this character hurling fireballs at his enemies. The problem is that he is simply too weak. It takes him many turns to deal the same damage as an equivalent warrior and when he is done, he has to sit down to rest for several minutes.

So... I've been thinking about creating some house rules. I'm seeking the opinion of other experienced GM's to point out other options or things I'm not considering. I'd especially like to hear responses from those who have play-tested your rules.

Here are some options I'm considering...

(1) Mitigate the enormous range penalty of non-touch regular spells by increasing the range incriment by their level of magery. (I.e. range penalty = range/magery rounded up)
I got this idea from another post which used a similar concept but skill instead of magery (sorry can't find it for linking). I prefer not to use skill as the limit for range because I don't want to totally negate the cost of range, just minimize it.

(2) Lower the final cost by a "success-by" cost redux. (I.e. For each success by X amount, the cost of the spell is lowered by one.) I got this idea from here: But I'd prefer not to require the mage to pay more than normal on a failure. This is an interesting idea, but not someting that can create the conditions I'm looking for all by itself.

(3) Go with a modified version of S John's unlimited mana rules at I'd prefer not to use the calamity rules in favor of spell points that are limited by 5x or 10x the wizard's magery level. The great thing about this is that it allows the mage to sling some powerful spells, but I don't want to keep track of a separate recovery (other than fatigue).

(4) Allow/encourage the mage to purchase magic-only fatigue and allow him to exceed the 30% HP limit (B16). (I think I saw this option in the rules somewhere.. Hmm... Was this from 3e?)

(5) Create a new spell for the mage called "Collect Mana" which can harness mana from the environment for use on the next spell (and ONLY the next spell). The mage could spend, say, 10 seconds for each mana point up to his magery level. (I.e. A wizard with magery 6 could spend up to 60 seconds to gather 6 mana for use on his next spell.) (Note: I stole this idea from Mab's post:
I like the idea, but my big worry is that it might unbalance the game. It essentially makes non-urgent spells free. Then again, I've been reminded that the Recover Energy spell (at level 20) allows the recovery of 1 FP per 2 minutes.

So, what does everyone think of these ideas? Are there others? Has anyone play-tested these? Lessons learned?
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Old 02-27-2007, 11:42 PM   #2
David Johansen
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Default Re: Un-nerfed Mages

I don't think mages are nerfed. No, they aren't generally as damage point effective as fighters and don't necessarily balance as neatly as they did in Melee and Wizard however, it's the other things a Mage can do that matter. Although a focused missile spell mage is a very effective option because the number of dice you can inflict has been increased by they amount your energy cost is reduced. This makes explosive fireball much nicer.
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Old 02-28-2007, 12:21 AM   #3
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Default Re: Un-nerfed Mages

I also have to agree, mages are definitely not nerfed.

If you want a fireball throwing mage, the fatigue pool is vital - allow your mages to purchase extra fatigue w/ the magic only limitation. Powerstones are very, very handy. Actually, anything which gives "free" mana is useful - power enchantments for example. In one of my campaigns, certain animals and plants absorb ambient mana and act like one shot powerstones. They are inexpensive ($1 a point) and the PC's often visit apothecaries and gypsy grandmothers looking for more. It gives magic a "material component" feel.

Try introducing magic items that give Acc bonuses to missile spells. Or increase range. Tack on a power enchantment and watch your players fight over who gets the Fireball wand. :)

You could also raise the highest allowed level of magery. This makes it easier and cheaper to get higher levels of skill in spells - higher levels mean faster and less expensive spells. Also higher levels of magery make for more powerful offensive spells.

Try looking at tactics that make the most of your spells. If your opponents don't have missile weapons, Levitation is the ultimate defence. If you missile shield (or reverse missile!), even arrows aren't a problem.

As in all things in GURPS, if you want power, you have to spend points. Lots and lots of points. Using advantages and equipment to boost your power will help, but ultimately a 500-point mage is going to be stronger than a 200-point one.
He only employs his passion who can make no use of his reason. - Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)
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Old 02-28-2007, 12:33 AM   #4
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Default Re: Un-nerfed Mages

Try taking a Compartmentalized Mind, so you can fight and cast spells at the same time. You can limit it to only spells to make it a more reasonable cost.
He only employs his passion who can make no use of his reason. - Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)
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Old 02-28-2007, 12:42 AM   #5
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Default Re: Un-nerfed Mages

If you want your mage to be able to throw more fireballs before "having to sit down", give him more FP. Powers introduces an Energy Reserve, which costs 3 pts/lvl, regenerates simultaneously with fatigue, and doesn't drop if he gets tired, etc. Let him buy that, with a limitation "Only for missile spells, -20%". A 20-point ER would cost 48 points, well worth the extra functionality he'd get out of it.

Also, I assume that he's already bought his Missile spell(s) up to level 20. That 2-point cost reduction is crucial and worth more than a dozen extra points of fatigue.

I don't think Missile spells are at all slow, especially compared to bows, but if you want to kick his speed up a notch, allow higher levels of Magery with a custom limitation, "Only to improve the potential dice of missile spells, -50%". That's 5 points/level. If he has Magery 3 [25] and Magery +3 with this limitation [15], that's dirt cheap and allows him to throw a 6d fireball every other turn.

Granted, I don't think mages are nerfed in any way, shape, or form -- on the contrary, I think that implementing these rules will make your mage frighteningly overpowered . . . but hey, it's your game.
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Old 02-28-2007, 12:57 AM   #6
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Default Re: Un-nerfed Mages

Another fix is to effectivly give the mage Very High Mana with out the Addtional crit problems by buying Regeneration (FP, Extream) where the regain 10 FP per second. including the second they are not casting but rather throwing the missle spell.
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Old 02-28-2007, 03:58 AM   #7
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Default Re: Un-nerfed Mages

Originally Posted by DieMunchkin
In one of my campaigns, certain animals and plants absorb ambient mana and act like one shot powerstones. They are inexpensive ($1 a point) and the PC's often visit apothecaries and gypsy grandmothers looking for more. It gives magic a "material component" feel.
Cool idea! *steals* ^_^
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Old 02-28-2007, 08:45 AM   #8
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Default Re: Un-nerfed Mages

If you want a very particular feel of magic such as constant missiles, why not just give the mages heavily modified innate attacks? Costs FP, Requires Skill Roll, maybe armor peircing, area of effect, exploding, fragmentation, etc. Add delay and have yourself a grenade =-P
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Old 02-28-2007, 08:50 AM   #9
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Default Re: Un-nerfed Mages

You never said how many points he's playing with.

I believe you can turn touch spells into missile spells by using Curse Missile, though I don't have my magic book at work, so I can't look it up.

As far as special rules goes, the first thing you can do is use the optional extra magery and additional dice per level of magery rules. This lets him buy more than 3 levels of magery and use those levels as the dice limit for some damage spells. There's the Energy Reserve, but I would call it a Mana Pool in a fantasy game though. The extreme FP regen that was suggested would work wonders for the caster.

All in all you don't have to look very far to get some oompf to your mage's ability. High point campaigns are pretty cinematic anyway, so I generally dismiss any 'that's not realistic' arguments for a lot of the player abilities.
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Old 02-28-2007, 09:20 AM   #10
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Default Re: Un-nerfed Mages

I think Extarius is right on the mark. Want a fireball slinging wizkid? Give him innate attacks. GURPS magic is alot more utilitarian in function. I like that.
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kromm answer, magic

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